Seeing a Crescent City Council proclamation regarding the Great American Smokeout Nov. 16, I’m reminded of one of my proudest personal achievements — quitting smoking.
From age 16 to about 28, I’d sustained a pack-a-day habit that impacted my skin, my weight and my health, not to mention my smile and my breath. I wanted to quit, but found myself arguing with the addiction in an almost Smeagol/Gollum sort of way. Part of me hated the habit while part of me defended and justified it.
If you know what I’m talking about, perhaps it’s time to quit for good. While I can’t give you a foolproof formula for quitting, I can offer a few tips that helped me quit with minimal casualties.
Once you’ve made a firm commitment to quit, you may become a bit fidgety. Of course, there were no fidget spinners in 1997, so my replacement was drawing and practicing guitar. I also chewed a lot of sugar-free gum, did crossword puzzles and built things.
One enabler of smoking may be your smoking friends. Luckily, mine understood when I said I needed to not share smoking spaces with them for a while. Instead of socially smoking, I took walks and taught myself photography. I was also careful not to replace smoking with eating.
If you smoke in your car a lot, you’re essentially commuting inside a giant cigarette butt. The seats, carpet, insulation and headliner will soak up smoke like a sponge and will leech the smell forever. For me, that scent was a powerful subliminal trigger and made me want to smoke every time I got in.
By the time I was done scouring my car’s interior, I had made a large white towel completely brown with nicotine, along with a couple gallons of soapy water. The difference was amazing — not only was the old smoke smell gone but the new disinfected smell reminded me to stay on target.
After about six months of being a somewhat irritable grinch, I awoke one morning to find myself actually offended by the idea of having a cigarette. I knew then I had quit.
The clouds parted, beams of light shined down and angels sang Hallelujah. Well, maybe not, but it felt that way to be liberated from a habit that had controlled me for over a decade.
Week by week, month by month, I felt better and more alive. I coughed less, food tasted better and I found I got over seasonal colds faster.
In the end, quitting was one of the most worthwhile things I’d ever done and I can’t think of a single thing I miss about it.
This I can promise — successfully quitting will make you feel better, happier and healthier, as well as stronger and more resolute in making everyday decisions.
Reach Tony Reed at firstname.lastname@example.org